"The Smooth Handfish – a sea dweller with bulging eyes, a mohawk on its head, and hand-like fins that allowed it to walk on the seabed – was once so plentiful in the Tasman region, it was one of the first fish species to be documented in ‘Australia’. In July this year, it was declared extinct. What we know of its collective story – within the limits of human cognition of its existence and loss – feels so relevant to where we find ourselves today.
For many of us, 2020 in particular, has given multiple pauses to rethink the question, ‘What does it take to survive?’
We live in very difficult times, in the midst of multiple crises. We deal with a variety of profound losses, every day. The global pandemic has only heightened this. The frantic pace of the type of world and systems we’re expected to navigate has meant that over the years many of us have misplaced important personal and communal rituals. We have lost spaces for meaningful philosophical discourse, for connection with our living companions – human, non-human, across earth, ocean, freshwater, ice... Alongside, have we also lost the capacity to grieve what we have lost?
To reckon with this, The Parallel Effect – a collective of creators and thinkers – curated a virtual Vigil for the Smooth Handfish. Our intention was to provide a space for a digital congregation, to contemplate loss, grief, the parameters of care, the interconnectedness of conservation and radical hope, and “collaborative survival”. Contributions, from individuals and communities across the globe, took form through a variety of mediums: music, performance, webinar presentations, video essays and spoken word. As each uniquely mourned, remembered and responded to the loss of the Smooth Handfish, in communion they offered a collective expression and reflection of grief and survival in an increasingly complex, and often far too difficult, world".
Kanngieser A Eulogy for the Handfish
Voice, audio composition, field recording
Curated in Vigil for the Smooth Handfish, The Parallel Effect, Australia. 22 November.